The story behind my photo of the "naked" aspen tree

Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA (Image credit: Reed Miller)

Reed Miller has lived in Idaho all his life and has probably spent more time photographing in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks than anyone else. He has shot many memorable scenes of the surrounding landscapes and the spectacular wildlife and has a special eye for composition.

“I came across this scene with a lone aspen tree in full autumn color among the dark green pines in the Teton mountain range of Grand Teton National Park,” Reed says. “In the right light – and it is always about the light – Cascade Canyon is magnificent. The aspen tree in the foreground stood out, creating a dramatic contrast to the sea of evergreens. I processed this image in color, as always, but I eventually decided to add depth to the mountains and canyon and converted the image to black and white using Nik Silver Efex,” he adds. 

“The black and white image was much better at showing the depth and detail of Cascade Canyon, but I just couldn’t live without the standout lone colorful aspen tree. Having both color and black and white versions of the image, I decided to see if I could create a credible look by attempting a mixed black and white and color image. In Photoshop, I stacked both the color and black and white versions, created a mask and simply painted in the leaves on the aspen. Although I am typically circumspect in creating partial color images, this has become one of my all-time favorites.”

Reed Miller Portrait
Reed Miller

Reed Miller, an Idaho native, feels fortunate to live in an awe-inspiring part of the world, adjacent to both Yellowstone National and Grand Teton National Parks. As he embarks on further travels, he continues to explore the numerous remarkable and unique locations on our planet. Although landscape photography is his primary passion, Miller's photographic interests extend to wildlife and any captivating subjects that pique his interest or catch his eye.

Tech details

Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM (Image credit: Future)

Camera: Canon EOS 5DS R

Lens: Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

Aperture: f/18

Shutter speed: 1/160sec 

ISO: 100 

Focal length: 70mm

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Kim Bunermann
Technique Editor

Kim is the Technique Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine. She specializes in architecture, still life and product photography and has a Master's degree in Photography and Media with a distinction from the FH Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. While studying, Kim came to the UK for an exchange term at the London College of Communication. She settled in the UK and began her career path by joining Future. Kim focuses on tutorials and creative techniques, and particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring photographers who concentrate on a range of fascinating subjects including women in photography, the climate crisis; the planet, its precious creatures and the environment.